“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is an oft repeated cliche but one that I would advise authors out there not to pay attention to. Everyone judges things based on looks, and books are no different. To stand out you need a good cover. Nowadays, with so much available content, that’s probably more true than ever. Consumers are going to make snap judgments, fair or not, about products based on information they can glean quickly like a book’s summary, genre, and cover.
If you are planning to be traditionally published, you don’t have to worry about cover art; the publishing company will take care of this for you. But for those of you who are thinking of self-publishing, getting a book cover is going to be one of the many tasks you have to undertake on your own.
Below are my thoughts on approaching your book covers as well as a reveal of the e-book cover art for the first episode of my urban fantasy serial Nine Tails.
A book cover isn’t just a thing that encloses the pages of your book. It’s sort of like a movie poster, a visual marketing tool meant to draw in potential readers. What it looks like and how professional it looks are both important.
For this reason, I highly recommend hiring a book cover designer. If you are a really proficient artist or have worked in design, then you may want to do the cover art yourself, but I don’t think that most people fall under this category. While you aren’t going to be the one designing the actual cover, you want to make sure that you can tell your artist and/or designer what sort of cover to make.
The cover needs to convey the genre of the book to your reader. But it also needs to convey something specific about your story, to be similar to things so that is recognizable as part of the tribe but also to stand out enough to draw attention.
Research the cover art of other books in your genre and use that as a guide. This can help you describe what you want for your designer and give you a baseline idea of whether or not they are doing a good job with the art. I told the cover artist I was working with all of the pertinent details about my story, like its synopsis and genres, and gave some suggestions as to what I wanted.
Keep in mind that the cover needs to look good as a thumbnail if it’s going to be sold on internet sites. If you’re writing a series, the covers should each be distinguishable. While I originally wanted to only change the fonts for the titles of my book covers, my designer convinced me to change colors on each cover as well to make sure that they were distinctive at a glance.
There are a bunch of cover artists out there who range in price and quality. I don’t have extensive experience working with them and can only offer up the one I worked with, who I found to be very professionally and reasonably priced. Her name is Jessica Richardson, and she runs a site called Cover Bistro.
If you’re in a pinch finance wise, you could probably find someone on fiverr, or you could work on the cover yourself. There are now several sites that allow people to design their own images. I use Canva quite frequently, mostly to make the Pinterest banners I use for these blog posts, and sites like that can help you make a decent looking book cover.
That being said, I would caution against going this route. It is unlikely that you’ll be able to create a cover that will look professional enough to represent your book well unless you have some experience in design. The only reason I might try this is if you are releasing a lot of shorter works, like a novella or short story series, that requires a lot of covers. If you can make a simple and elegant cover, that might be a more price efficient way to sell works of that nature. But if you’re releasing novels, I think paying for the cover art is well worth it and will pay you back in sales.
Cover Art Reveal:
Below is the cover for the first episode of Nine Tails. The story will kick off on Kindle at the end of this month. For more on the series, check back to this blog as I reveal more in the coming weeks. Thanks for reading, and if you have any additional thoughts or questions on cover art, please let me know in the comments!